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Old 11-28-2016, 08:04 AM
R. Dale Flick R. Dale Flick is offline
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.A.
Posts: 1,570

*Laidley's Thanksgiving 1908 No. 2*
Steamboating colleagues:
Jim, you were so right RE: the comedy of errors on Thanksgiving Day with the CITY OF CINCINNATI broken down with a bum tiller line, Laidley's baby CITY OF LOUISVILLE up here with a busted pump. The Chief got the pump repaired, running for our holiday departure to Louisville at 6:45 PM--later than scheduled. The LOUISVILLE's captain and pilot laid the steam on with her tearing down through the lower Cincinnati harbor with Laidley standing behind them in the pilothouse checking his big gold watch. Her legendary power--and wake--also tore up a number of coal barges, smaller vessels with no small about of damage, yellin,' runnin' around. And did she ever shake and quivver with her wheels rolling all the way down. The next week Laidley met with a delegation on the whafboat with their estimate of damage and lawyers. Next morning early, Laidley, Ellis Mace and I up early in the dark pilothouse seeing the CITY OF CINCINNATI already towed over, laid up at HOWARD's for tiller line replacement. Laidley just huffed, "By Jimminy, we hauled that new line down from Cincinanti and the Howard boys got all under control now. What in tarnation is this going to cost me?! Do people think I'm made of money?!" he barked with his chin Billy goat whiskers flapping in our faces. We made a quick stop dropping off the carpenter from the LOUISVILLE and me at Howards to check on the work, me examine, pay Howard's their bill. The CINCINNATI passengers not as riled up as expected with most being taken over to Louisville with luggage on the ferry.

The Howard boys did a fine job and fast that post Thanksgiving Friday--but it costs us a pretty penny. We landed the LOUISVILLE in Louisville unloading passengers, freight with the CINCINNATI coming over later to unload. With the next day being Saturday, all the L&C LINE boats laid up for the day to rest the engines, clean boilers. Laidley paced the deck with Ellis and me at his elbow. "Well, this mess got us a fly in the soup. Look, with all these regular passengers getting off her, and the Thanksgiving guests aboard, we got to load, fuel up, turn the LOUISVILLE around and head back to Cincinnati tonight so's we can unload freight, passengers, cool down and clean 'bilers. We'll have the CINCINNATI come up in the morning and do a quick job on her later Saturday," he stated. "Ah, Commodore, the boys going to be testy over that. You know how they all look to their Saturday night off in Ragtown. Chief on the CINCINNATI and his gang exhausted with that tiller line mess. The rousters also belly aching, grousing around over a pay increase. Another big change in the steamboat business going to be base wages after 1908. The labor unions coming on strong and you know what that means. Ellis and I suggest you consider a now rate of 20 cents per hour--possibly up to 25 cents," I advised.

Laidley chomped his cigar, spit over the rail and huhrumped. "Not by my leave! I own this company and these boats! This rate I'll be run outta' business, laid up sooner than even the year 1912 or so. Not that way in my early years steamboatin'. People think I'm made of money or what?!" he stormed. Ellis stepped back rolling his eyes having heard it all before. I stood my ground. "Commodore, my ledger books and bills received and paid show it and I'll show you. These wage benefits going to hit everybody hard from steamboats to railroads, factories, businesses--sign of the times. Isn't like the years you've known 30, 40, 50 years ago. Even now people watching what the German Emperor has on his mind preparing building his big fleet, growing his army, fussing with England. We have a big war in another few years and I guarantee you everything will change forever," I spoke.

Laidley fell silent, looked down at the deck and across the river in the early morning dark light. "Boys, I'm seein' and hearin' things I don't like. Christmas and 1909 on us within a few weeks. Dale, when we get back to the office next week I want you to do me an audit and update of current and anticipated expenses with comparison to the last five years--you heah' me?"
Ellis cornered me later. "You told the old goat what I've been saying for several years. He's got to be shown the facts and jolted good."

R. Dale Flick
Old Coal Haven Landing, Ohio River, Cincinnati
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